Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Continuing Adventures of Vallasen the Mighty

My seven-year-old son is responsible for directly inventing or inspiring probably a third of the material that shows up on this blog, and he can be indirectly credited with the entire setting (optimistic, cartoonish, humorous, dream-logic etc).

Yesterday, following a discussion with Jack of Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque, I challenged the Boy to come up with some hexkey locations.  It didn't take many leading questions (mostly "we just did a castle, how about a town next?"), and he came up with the following.

1 - Orange Dragon Castle. The ruler here, bears an orange dragon rampant as his heraldry; he commands a small army of men who are black on one side and white on the other. Nobody knows he secretly eats brains to give him strength.

2 - Ghost Village. For some reason everyone who dies in this village becomes a ghost, and now the village is populated not only by the usual assortment of farmers, but also three generations' worth of ancestors. All the ghosts are visible and go about their business as usual.

3 - Prince-of-Ponies. There roams in these hills a magical pony whose touch can turn a man into a pony. These transformed horses serve out their time in some kind of penance, then are turned back into men. The Prince-of-Ponies usually has 3d6 other ponies with him.

4 - Flower-Town. Situated in a field of wildflowers, every building in this town is covered in flowers (like the Rose Bowl parade, only the whole town). The people who live here love flowers and hold them sacred.

5 - Yucky Pond. At the bottom of this pond are a whole mess of blood-sucking zombie snails.

6 - Growling Tower. This crumbling edifice is home to a sorceror who has accidentally turned himself in to a talking 1957 Chevy (with a hat).

I'm totally content to call these canon for Wampus Country in some way, and I'm sure we'll do more locations like that in the future; perhaps I can get the Boy to populate a whole hexmap, or a chunk of one.

During the Frankenstorm (aka Hurricane Sandy), we lost power for just over a day.  This afternoon, the Boy asked to play "Adventure" - which he hadn't asked about in a while.  I told him I'd happily run him through his character's next mission, a mystery involving the theft of the World's Smallest Giraffe, but he didn't want to pick up that plot thread.  Instead, he insisted on exploring the hexes he had populated - he wanted to search for the Prince of Ponies.  And off we went.

His PC, Vallasen the Mighty, is the seven-year-old hero of Frogport (we like to say "age 7, STR 17") who tools around in chain mail with a fluttering cape and a newspaper hat; he is armed with a cutlass, several boomerangs, and a six-shot pistol.  By Vallasen's side, as always, is his companion/steed Wiggybench, an animated park-bench inhabited by the ghost of a first-level cleric (always ready with that one healing spell if necessary).

Our story opens as Vallasen and Wiggybench set forth from Frogport, toward the distant mountain where the Prince of Ponies - whose touch can turn a man into a pony - dwells.  Vallasen was confident he could locate the legendary horse and live to tell the tale.  Midway through the morning of riding (well, walking, really - the bench is kinda slow), Vallasen hears hoofbeats, and stirs from his nap to see three bandits riding toward him, brandishing pistols.  He hunkers down behind Wiggybench for cover and fires a few shots; the bandits also fire as they charge ever-closer, but luckily those bullets miss.  Realizing he's outnumbered and exposed here, Vallasen does something tall-tale worthy: he takes careful aim at the nearby mountain ridge and fires his pistol, causing an avalanche which crushes the bandits.  (No kidding - the kid said "I want to shoot the mountain so it falls on them" then rolled a natural 20.  Avalanche!)  Vallasen sauntered over to the pile of rock, snow, dirt, and broken bandit bodies and stole their weapons, then continued on his quest.

It's getting cold, so Vallasen pulls out his winter coat (giraffe-hide on the outside, rabbit fur on the inside).  As he reaches a higher elevation, he spots a large bear foraging for berries.  Vallasen grows concerned that the bear might come across the magical pony he sought, and maul the equine.  The bear had to go.  Vallasen throws a boomerang, but misses horribly (a 1.  The Boy is learning how fickle dice can be); the boomerang caroms off a tree and returns, bonking our hero in the temple and knocking him out.

He wakes in a large, comfy bed in what appears to be a rustic cabin; the smell of chicken soup wafts through the air.  Vallasen reaches up to find his head-wound bandaged, so he stealthily scouts around the corner, and sees a bear - presumably the same one - working at the stove in the kitchen.  Will the mighty knight-errant elect to parlay with this beast?  Certainly not.  Divested of his weapons, Vallasen looks around frantically, and chooses a ceramic piggybank from the mantle, then sneaks up behind the bear and cracks the bank over its head.  The bear fails its "save vs KO" and slumps to the floor.  Vallasen quickly scoops up the pennies which have now covered the floor, and also steals a nice frying-pan and the bear's teapot.  Running outside, he finds Wiggybench tied to a tree, with his backpack and gear.  Vallasen rapidly frees his companion and continues his quest before the bear wakes.

Finally, peering down the side of a ridge, Vallasen spies an amazingly beautiful and noble pony prancing about in a field of wildflowers with several other, mundane-looking, ponies.  Deciding to go the stealth route,Vallasen signals Wiggybench to stay put, and our hero belly-crawls through the wildflowers.  Midway to the ponies, he is confronted by a tiger lily (this was the Boy's idea - "there's a monster flower in there!"), which is a small carnivorous plant with a tiger's face.  Concerned that a conflict with the flower would ruin his sneaking, Vallasen intimidated the plant into remaining quiet (good roleplay + CHA roll..."Be quiet and go away or I'll pluck all your leaves out").

Vallasen crawled up in the midst of the horses and approached the Prince of Ponies.  Suddenly, the magical horse turned and kissed Vallasen on the forehead!  The horses all dashed off as Vallasen the Mighty felt eldritch power course through his veins; his body shivered and his head spun.  His hands and feet became hooves, and finally his head transformed as well - he was now a pony!  Robbed of the power of speech, Vallasen trotted back to Wiggybench.

Knowing there was a wizard's tower nearby, Vallasen the Pony made his way there.  The Growling Tower lived up to its name, as all manner of growls and rumbles echoed from within.  The front door to the tower had an animated knocker in the shape of an elephant; Vallasen knocked.  The door was answered by a talking green car (with a top hat and moustache) -- the well-known wizard Lord Vroomicus!  Vroomicus had long ago accidentally turned himself into a '57 Chevy and was unable to turn back, but he knew more about magical transformations than anyone, and luckily he spoke Horse.

Lord Vroomicus agreed to cure Vallasen if Vallasen would undertake a quest.  Our hero, tired of being a horse, readily concurred.  Vroomicus mixed up a potion - a philtre of turtle-water with a dash of gryphon blood and some ground-up meteorite - and Vallasen quaffed it quickly.  In minutes, he was turned back into a boy.  Vroomicus reminded Vallasen of the tripartite quest - he must solve the mystery of the Ghost Village, defeat the vampire zombie snails of Yucky Pond, AND overthrow the brain-eating Lord of Orange Dragon Castle - and all within the next month, or Vroomicus would be forced to bring down a wizardly curse on our hero.

And that's where we stopped.  That was like half an hour of play, and it was great fun - a silly voice for the car-wizard, the two of us clopping around like horses, and we went into the kitchen to mix up a 'potion' for him to drink to be restored.  I advised the Boy that the Castle portion of his quest was probably the most difficult, so he might want to try the other two first to gain experience and find allies before dealing with the nefarious brain-eater, but we'll see which way he goes.

Lord Vroomicus, Wizard.


  1. Holy shit that was awesome! I'm adding these hexes to one shot right now

  2. Wonderful. My youngest (10) wanted to play last week. He made a deal with the king of the red goblins to save his daughter the Princess Turdfire from the wicked green goblins. Wiggybench takes the cake though.

  3. Teeth Night Guard is providing precise fitting and high quality customized dental protectors.